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Dreaming at Christmastime

December 23, 2004

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I'll tell you, that Inga Swearingen's voice is the voice I have when I sing in my dreams. And only in my dreams. I've got one of those man-voices when I sing. Strong, but not at all pretty. And I love to sing, so there you have it. Only in my dreams do I hit those high notes and send flocks of white birds flying.

Though I haven't been dreaming much lately. Not in my sleep anyway. I confess I haven't been sleeping much and once I hit the pillow I'm in deep REM in a matter of minutes. It's not insomnia and I don't have huge issues with anyone or anything. I'm just enjoying what some call the holiday and what I call Christmas. There's not much snow on the ground and the moon is getting fuller and these are the longest nights and I can't for the life of me say that I want to go to sleep. My mother sent me some pink pills she guarantees will put me out like that but I can't bring myself to take them. Not just yet. I'm finding baking after midnight far too wonderful to pass up at the moment. It's 1:07 a.m. and I just pulled out the last sheet of spritz cookies. I'm thinking a pan of cashew bars sounds good or maybe a pan of cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Or hash browns with cheese. On the show Mr. Keillor talked about picking potatoes in his college days and since then I've had hash browns with cheese on my mind.

Anyway, it's late and quiet and I have all kinds of ideas in my head I'd like to share if someone would just wake up or call or slide into the ditch outside the house. I'm thinking about Christmas vacation with the kids and how I hope to take them out on an adventure to the mall or down to the river where we picnicked last summer. I think we'll go ice-skating and maybe visit the Chinese buffet or try sushi instead of lutefisk. Something. Anything. I imagine they'll get bored at some point and want to see a movie or visit their grandparents. If it ever snows, I'll put on the new winter coat and black boots and blue scarf I bought and wrapped and put under the tree with a label that reads, "To Mrs. Sundberg from Santa." I'll lace up the kids' snowshoes and take them on what I call an "Adventure Walk" and we'll get ice cream and wander through the cemetery and stand on the corner across from the bank and just wave to people and hand out candy canes and holler "Happy New Year!" until the sheriff drives by a second or third time.

What I know for certain is that the kids will want to sleep in and I'll let them. There really is no better feeling (well, apart from flying) when you're a kid than sleeping in on Christmas vacation and waking to the smell of fresh rolls. I know I'll get annoyed with them at some point and ask them to settle down or they'll end up in their rooms with the door shut. And I know I'll get them to church, too, not because we ought to go but because I want to. You tend to sort things out in a church pew whether you're paying much attention or not. There are beautiful things to look at and the scent of lit candles and that great big ol' warm and mysterious feeling you get when you just relax and pay attention to the universe like sailors do when they chart their courses and professional ice skaters, too, when the music starts up. There are all those people, too, in church. People with furnaces that don't quite work and spouses who can't control their spending and sisters who are suffering and brothers who have just about had it.

And then the organ will sound and the organist will look us in the eye and we'll sing. "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear." The kids will sing and I'll harmonize and we'll all feel it, whatever it is, and we might not say much but we'll file out feeling a little less lonely and a little more alive. We'll go on home and have some hot chocolate and stay up later than usual, all of us, even Mr. Sundberg, for whom sleep is its own religion. Not that I'm complaining. We all find what we need where we find it. I just happen to find mine late at night in a cold sky filled with stars doing all they can to break through those clouds.

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